The Pembrokeshire Story community project launches new website this Autumn
The Torch Theatre have launched The Pembrokeshire Story Website this October after months of hard work collecting stories from the local community. The project began in January 2021 during Wales’ second Covid lockdown and with the help of many talented freelance artists, blossomed into a wonderful celebration of our county and its people. From the beginning of the project, and its origins during a conversation with his father, Peter Doran, Artistic Director of the Torch made clear that the team wanted it to be a living archive of stories which could be contributed to over time, which have now been captured in the new website.
The Pembrokeshire Story set out to bring local artists and our community together by mapping the county through everyday stories told by the people who live here, through the medium of Welsh, English and BSL. A story might be something as simple as how life has changed over the years, or it might be a special event that you would want to remember. So often these stories remain as legends within our own families, but this is a chance to share them with the world. Everyone has a story to tell, and this project will facilitate these stories to be recorded and remembered for generations to come.
The project has given 10 Pembrokeshire based creative freelancers a chance to show their talent and the be involved with something that will benefit their community for many years to come. It is hoped that the archive can eventually be used to help teach school children about the history of their county and its people.
Suzi McGregor, one of the freelance creatives working on the project said:
“It was very special being involved in The Pembrokeshire Story - to be connected through storytelling with the people in my community when everything felt so disparate and shut down during the lockdowns, it was a chance to open up again and hear everyday tales that are moving and comforting. The vocal improvisations in St David’s Cathedral were an expression of my gratitude really, gratitude for the people and landscape of Pembrokeshire.”
James Williams was lead creative on the project and notes that without The Pembrokeshire Story, some of the stories would never have been heard:
“Some people didn’t want their stories told but just wanted to talk to someone and share their experience. Others said that they didn’t have any stories to tell, then they talked for an hour and the artists said they wished that they had recorded the conversation. Everyone’s life is unique. They will have stories that it’s important are shared before they are lost forever.”
Many of the contributions have been combined into a final video reflecting this current stage of the project – ‘The Pembrokeshire Story’. This 20-minute clip is a reflection of all the stories gathered so far plus the artistic process of projecting the stories onto some of Pembrokeshire’s most iconic landmarks. Late into the night, during April 2021, James was joined by Lighting Designer Ceri James and the Torch Theatre’s technical team, whom with permission, projected a specially commissioned video of the stories on to these landmarks. These projections were filmed and photographed to create another chapter of stories that feed into the final Story video. The team visited Pembroke Caste, the Trinity House Jetty at Burton Ferry, Capel at Ty Rhos, Siop Y Sgwar at Maenclochog, Cambridge Gun Tower at Pembroke Dock, Manorbier Castle, Haverfordwest Castle and of course our home, the Torch Theatre. The Torch Theatre would like to thank all those involved for their ongoing support and cooperation throughout this project.
Executive Director of the Torch Theatre, Benjamin Lloyd, added:
“For us at the Torch, The Pembrokeshire Story provided the light to pierce those dark days of lockdown. We were desperate both to reach across the divide and connect with our communities, (especially those who are hard to reach and whose voices are seldom heard) and to support our creative voices through this time, and this proved the ideal vehicle.”
The outcome of The Pembrokeshire Story is to leave a legacy, for memories to be shared and, most importantly, to connect generations and the communities of Pembrokeshire together through storytelling. The first chapter has been written and there will be many more to follow.
The Pembrokeshire Story website is now live, and visitors can click on a virtual map of the county to select from over 70 stories to read and watch, as well as to contribute their own should they be interested.
There will be an accompanying The Pembrokeshire Story exhibition across the Torch Theatre throughout the Autumn. In this exhibition, photographers Mohamed Hassan and Liam Cole share images from their explorations throughout Pembrokeshire. The work ranges from a documentation of the performance elements of The Pembrokeshire Story, to more intimate images of life within the home, to landscapes, to individual portraits. They are a taster for the complete collection of photos which can be seen by visiting the artist pages of the website.
For more information and to get involved with The Pembrokeshire Story visit: http://www.pembrokeshirestory.co.uk/